Research Handbook on Climate Governance
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Research Handbook on Climate Governance

Edited by Karin Bäckstrand and Eva Lövbrand

The 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen is often represented as a watershed in global climate politics, when the diplomatic efforts to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol failed and was replaced by a fragmented and decentralized climate governance order. In the post-Copenhagen landscape the top-down universal approach to climate governance has gradually given way to a more complex, hybrid and dispersed political landscape involving multiple actors, arenas and sites. The Handbook contains contributions from more than 50 internationally leading scholars and explores the latest trends and theoretical developments of the climate governance scholarship.
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Chapter 40: Security

Angela Oels


This chapter offers a review of the literature in the field of critical security studies in order to discuss the various social constructions of climate change as a security issue and their policy implications. Will climate security discourse facilitate climate mitigation policy? First, the Copenhagen School asks whether extraordinary measures to protect the climate (including emission reductions) are legitimized as a result of security speech acts by elites, but cannot find any successful ‘securitization.’ A second approach analyses security discourses by referent objects, distinguishing human security, national security, international security and ecological security discourses, each of which is linked a priori to certain policy implications. It argues that human security discourse could facilitate climate mitigation action, but that it is unfortunately not the dominant discourse. Third, a governmentality analysis asks how changing constructions of danger evoke different modes of securing. A governmentality perspective shows that the construction of climate change as inevitable climate ‘terror’ has facilitated resilience thinking and adaptation policies rather than mitigation action. Fourth, a post-politics approach suggests that security discourse is in fact a populist endeavor, externalizing the problem of climate change and thereby leaving the capitalist system of production unchanged.

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